If you are interested in working in a helping profession and are ready to perform in-home care for people in need, training to be a certified caregiver may be an ideal choice. There are a variety of programs available that will enable you to work with a wide range of clients. Credit requirements vary by institution and the program selected. For example, the Arizona Medical Training Institute requires 104 hours credit hours for an assisted living caregiver program and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences mandates 50 hours for a home care assistant certification. Most programs have minimal prerequisites such as being 16 years of age or older, English proficiency and a high school diploma. Check with your state for certification requirements.

Basic Training

Basic training as a direct caregiver involves learning about personal care, home attendance services and understanding behavior management. Personal caregivers also learn CPR, AED and first aid training. If you already hold these certifications, you may be exempt from this training. Caregivers must learn the state and federal guidelines, information that is usually covered in an introductory course. Education about how to manage care for clients with developmental and physical disabilities is core to most programs.

Family Care

Once you earn your caregiver certification, you can extend your training by becoming a family caregiver specialist. Family care training will help you learn more about providing services to clients with chronic illnesses and older adults. In this role, you will help the family as well as the client when extra support is needed. Clients obtain a family caregiver to avoid nursing care and extended care facilities. Gaining a broader understanding of home based care and communication skills will add to your expertise as a family caregiver.

Alzheimer’s Care

Older adults with Alzheimer’s disease require specialized 24-hour care. You can differentiate yourself as a caregiver by learning about how to care for patients with dementia. Alzheimer’s patients require caregivers who understand how to design a daily routine that will maximize their quality of living. This certification program also covers critical safety issues and interpersonal communication skills that are necessary to manage the disease.

Comprehensive Care

If you are interested in comprehensive caregiver credentials, completing a series of courses that cover all facets of this profession will enable you to serve in a variety of capacities. In addition to basic care-giving education, learning how to be a home care assistant, working with geriatric patients, an understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and family care issues will provide you with the skills and education equivalent to a certified nursing assistant. Some states will allow you to take a nursing assistant certification examination in addition to earning your credentials in other care-giving specialties.

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About the Author

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.